|Marsha, a Rhode Island Red hen, was surrendered to Nevins Farm as a single classroom hatchling; Marsha was adopted a few months later with her best friend, a goat
While on the surface, live animal projects might seem like perfect hands-on learning opportunities, the reality is that there are many drawbacks. Not only is raising chickens in a classroom expensive, time consuming, and messy, but it also leaves the teacher needing to find suitable and permanent placement for the resulting birds.
The MSPCA at Nevins Farm receives dozens of calls each year from parents and teachers looking to surrender these chicks, because most working farms will not take them (and those that do will rarely accept roosters.) Simply killing the chicks promotes the idea that these animals are disposable, useful only for the duration of the project. In a country with millions of homeless animals, what we should be teaching children is the importance of commitment and responsibility, particularly for animals we actively bring into the world.
And sadly, even in the most responsible classrooms, incubator malfunctions can result in dead or deformed chicks. And others may grow sick because their exacting needs for heat, humidity, and egg rotation are rarely met during or after hatching.
The MSPCA at Nevins Farm is thrilled to introduce its “Pledge NOT to Hatch” campaign, launched in February 2011. By offering free humane alternative “Starter Kits” to schools who take the pledge NOT to conduct classroom chick hatching, the MSPCA hopes to increase awareness of the negative impact this project has on chickens as well as students. These kits include several children’s books, a set of 21 egg models representing the embryonic stages of chick development, a copy of United Poultry Concern’s “Hatching Good Lessons” curriculum planning guide, and special badge pins for each student.
As an added incentive, the MSPCA will offer classroom visits to schools who sign the pledge, to teach students about the mission of the MSPCA and the special needs of chickens as pets. When available, a chicken awaiting adoption at Nevins Farm may accompany the staff!
Each year, on International Respect for Chickens Day in May, the MSPCA at Nevins Farm hosts special on-site events for visitors, including Meet-and-Greets with adoptable chickens and a tour of our new chicken coop.
Click here to learn more about alternatives to chick hatching and why the MSPCA discourages these projects. You can also check out our YouTube video featuring Marsha, the cute chick in the photo above!
To learn more about this campaign, or schedule a time to sign our Great Big Pledge Banner and arrange a school visit, please contact our Education Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (978) 687-7453 x 6108.